How to watch college football without cable – the 2021 season kicks off on August 28 with exciting matchups

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College Football
  • The 2021 NCAA college football season begins on August 28 and runs through December.
  • Games are broadcast on local channels, national networks, and college sports networks.
  • You can watch select college football matches without cable via live TV streaming services like Sling TV.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Fire up those portable grills, grab some ice for the cooler, and find a good tailgating spot, because college football is back. The 2021 NCAA college football season kicks off on August 28 and continues through December. Playoffs occur after the regular season ends, and the championship game is currently scheduled for January 10.

On opening day, known as “Week 0,” major matchups include Nebraska vs. Illinois at 1 p.m. ET on Fox, and Hawaii vs. UCLA at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.

College football games are primarily broadcast in one of three ways: on local channels, on cable networks, or on college sports networks. Select games will also be available to stream via ESPN+.

We’ve broken down some of the best ways to watch college football without cable, so you can stay up to date with your favorite teams.

How to watch college football without cable

You can watch local college football games for free by using an HDTV antenna. In order to watch games that are broadcast on pay-TV or college sports networks, you need a subscription to a streaming service like Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, or YouTube TV.

The core local channels with access to college football games are ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. National stations like ESPN, Fox Sports 1 (FS1), and CBSSN broadcast select college football games. Additional games are available through college sports networks such as the ACC Network, Big Ten Network, and SEC Network.

The number of channels that broadcast college football games can be a little overwhelming, so we put together a list featuring some of the best ways to stream games without a cable subscription.

Here’s a roundup of streaming services you can use to watch college football without cable:

HDTV Antenna

1byone HDTV antenna

If your main concern is rooting for your local college football team, an HDTV antenna is one of the most affordable options. A one-time purchase of an inexpensive antenna unlocks access to over-the-air (OTA) signals near you, and allows you to stream any available local affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, or NBC. 

An HDTV antenna is a great, budget-friendly option for streaming local games and does not require any monthly subscription. The major downside is that it doesn’t give you access to games broadcast on cable channels like ESPN or out-of-market games.

TV Antenna (small)
Sling TV

sling tv

Sling TV is one of the most affordable live TV streaming services with access to college football games. Sling’s two core plans, Orange and Blue, start at just $35 a month. If you want to watch games broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2, then Sling Orange is a great choice. Looking for the college football games airing on FS1 and NBC? Then Sling Blue is the best plan for you. 

Sling also offers a bundle option that combines all the channels from the Orange and Blue plan for just $50 a month. New customers to Sling TV currently receive $25 off their first month of service to the Orange or Blue plans, and $30 off their first month of the combined plan.

For an extra $11 a month, you can add access to college sports channels like the Big Ten Network and the SEC Network with the Sports Plus add-on package.

In select markets, local channels, like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, are available to stream at no additional cost through Locast. That said, unless you make a monthly donation of $5, these local channels will have periodic interruptions inserted by Locast. Visit the Sling TV website for more information about Locast integration.

TV (small)
Hulu with Live TV

Hulu on TV

If you want to get access to a vast library of movies, TV shows, and originals with your live TV subscription service, Hulu + Live TV could be a great fit for your needs. A subscription to Hulu + Live TV starts at $65 a month. 

With Hulu + Live TV, you get access to available local affiliate channels, like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. You also unlock many important broadcast channels for watching nationally televised college football games such as ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, and more. 

Unlike Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV includes access to the SEC Network, Big Ten Network, and ESPNU in their basic subscription plan.

+ Live TV (small)
YouTube TV

YouTube TV logo

As a live TV streaming service, YouTube TV includes many of the same features as Hulu + Live TV without the vast catalog of on-demand entertainment. A subscription to YouTube TV starts at $65 a month.

The channels available with a YouTube TV subscription closely mirror what is offered through Hulu + Live TV. You get access to local affiliates and all the important cable channels like ESPN, FS1, and CBSSN. 

Similar to Hulu + Live TV, college sports channels, such as the SEC Network, Big Ten Network, and ESPNU are included as part of the base plan for YouTube TV. The one main difference between the two services is that you can purchase a Sports Plus add-on for YouTube TV that costs $11 a month and includes the Fox College Sports channel.

TV (small)


FuboTV is another quality live TV streaming service with access to college football games. Starting at $65 a month, the streaming service has the same basic rate as Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV.

You can watch games that air on local affiliate channels and core broadcast channels with FuboTV. The streaming service offers certain college sports channels in their base plan, like the ACC Network, Big Ten Network, and CBS Sports Network, but the options are more limited than what is offered through Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV.

TV (Starter Plan) (small)
Paramount Plus

Paramount + logo

If your main concern is watching the SEC football games airing on CBS, then Paramount Plus is a great streaming service for you. Plans for Paramount Plus start at $5 a month and include access to the college football games broadcast on CBS.

You also get thousands of hours of on-demand movies, TV shows, and original content with a subscription to Paramount Plus.

Essential Monthly Plan (ad-supported) (small)



ESPN+ logo

ESPN+ doesn’t give you access to the ESPN channel, but for $7 a month, you can live stream select college football games from the MVFC, Ohio Valley, Southern Conference, and more. 

This is a great supplemental streaming service if you want to watch more niche college football games that are often not nationally broadcast.

Monthly Subscription Service (small)

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